Merry Christmas, mobileWOMEN!

Merry Christmas from All of Us
at mobileWOMEN!

Bethany, Wendy, Cheryl, Robyn, Amy, & Kara

Fashion is for Every Body

By Alicia Searcy
Rank and Sugar© [Photographer: Patrick Webster]
For people with disabilities, fashion is a powerful tool not only for self-expression but also for being perceived as competent, confident and approachable by others. As a wheelchair-dependent woman with Cerebral Palsy I can attest to that, and it’s this premise that was the catalyst for a revolutionary concept within the fashion industry.
Fashion is for Every Body is a nonprofit organization that challenges stereotypes and changes lives using the transformative power of fashion. We work with adults of all ages, sizes and physical abilities to produce inclusive photoshoots, videos, and an annual runway show featuring Nashville fashion designers. We also award one local designer a year with an endowment to create a pattern for an item of adaptive clothing that can be sized up or down and made to order for clients with physical disabilities.
Ola Mai© [Photographer: Annette McNamara]
But that’s not how it started. It started as an idea I had while sitting in the audience at Nashville Fashion Week in 2015 – at the same venue where we now hold our runway show. “Why can’t some fashion shows highlight the art of the collections like many cities’ fashion weeks do and others be for everybody and every body?” The only attempts at “inclusion” I had seen either used one atypical model in an otherwise standard runway, or an entire runway comprised of the same atypicality. I wanted plus-sized, petite, over the age of 40, physically disabled and professional models on the runway at the same time. My friend and co-founder Krystle Ramos and I mulled the concept over for about a year. Then, in January of 2016, news of the death of David Bowie made me view my life and the project with a new sense of urgency. We cobbled together what we thought would be a one-time, inclusive fashion show and called it Fashion is for Every Body. People loved it because it presented fashion in a manner that had never been done before. They said, “Wow, that was amazing! When’s the next one?” 
That’s when I knew we were onto something. We needed to continue to do this, so Fashion is for Every Body became a nonprofit. Our next runway show took place at Studio 615 – the venue that gave me the idea in the first place – and we’ve been there ever since. We approach all of our projects with the same professionalism as any other fashion-oriented organization. Models go through hair and makeup, are professionally styled and are photographed by local photographers for both the runway show and editorial shoots.  
Eric Adler© [Photography: SnappyLifestyle]
The designers that show on our runway or our photoshoots are challenged to work in a non-traditional manner. Most fashion shows supply models with nearly identical proportions to fit existing clothing. We work backwards, instead providing designers with detailed measurements they use to create their collections for Fashion is for Every Body. As a result, they end up with a whole new appreciation and skill set for what it’s like to dress someone that isn’t sample-sized or that has a disability. Many of our designer alumni have extended their size ranges or added adaptive garments to their collections for sale to the general public.
What none of us could have foreseen was the unintended consequence of our programs, which was the models changed how they felt about themselves. Most of our participants developed a more positive body image and a renewed or newly discovered sense of self-esteem. Some of our models have made drastically beneficial life changes as a direct result of being in one of our programs. That ripple effect has extended to our volunteers and even members of our audience both in person and on social media. 
Any Old Iron© [Photographer: MF Sagi]
This year’s show, On the Runway, played to a standing-room-only crowd of 240 people and was the Nashville Scene’s Critic’s Pick for events on that weekend. Fashion is for Every Body is also featured in season 3 of Our Nashville TV series produced by NECAT. All of this from an organization that is 100% sponsor-and-donor-funded and whose staff have taken no salary to date.
This revolution is picking up steam. I am excited and hopeful for what 2020 will bring Fashion is for Every Body. Follow our journey on our websiteInstagramFacebook and YouTube
Check back with us next time when we feature Abigail Brown’s fabulous story of discovering adaptive dance with Step Change Studios in London!
Alica Searcy Co-Founder and Director [Photographer: Nina Covington]
Alicia Searcy was born with Cerebral Palsy that affects her fine motor skills and limits her ability to walk. She started paying attention to her appearance when she noticed a direct correlation between the intentionality of her clothing choices and the way she was treated by the general public. In 2012 she started what was then the only disabled fashion blog in the Southeast called Spashionista. She is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nashville nonprofit Fashion is for Every Body.

Welcome to mobileWOMEN -- Let's Grow!

I am so excited to introduce all of you to our updated mobileWOMEN website! But first, it is without delay that I want to express my gratitude to our founder, Wendy Crawford, for creating this premiere online magazine for women who use wheelchairs. Because of Wendy’s passion, creative spark, and charisma for great ideas that benefit women with disabilities, mobileWOMEN has developed into one of the leading online resources for women to seek advice, share ideas with one another, and interact with one another. mobileWOMEN publishes contributor and guest blogger articles on a bi-weekly format. Many of our articles talk about romance, personal stories and experiences, or they point us toward credible sources to find solutions to our unique health challenges and concerns. And as always ~ we use our magazine and community to celebrate our achievements together.
Beyond the online magazine, our mobileWOMEN Facebook page extends a closed, private venue for our community of women with disabilities to have discussions, ask questions, and share information with one another in virtual real-time. By joining our online Facebook Group, you can also keep up with announcements, new features in the magazine, and of course humor and inspirational Memes! These and other inceptions developed by Wendy and the mobileWOMEN team, will always be a part of our design – it is what we’re about!

Wendy Crawford: Founder
I’d like to invite you to take a moment to get to know the new layout in mobileWOMEN Magazine. Many features have been consolidated or streamlined for your convenience, with more archived publications being added as we progress. Some standout articles have already been loaded into specialized categories of Health & Relationships, Travel, or Fashion & Entertainment. The Resource page has been updated with live links to products, services, and organizations, with additions being plugged in all the time. Plus there is now a Contact Form if ever you want to reach out to us. If you would like to learn more about our contributing writers, you can read their profiles, here.

As we continue to grow, look for new features, too! Some concepts that are in development include an advice column where subscribers can submit questions anonymously. One of our contributing writers, based on the nature of the question and their knowledge or experience of the subject, will post select questions and answers to our website, and on our Facebook page. Also in development, we are working on opening a Store for mobileWOMEN merchandise, alongside shopping links to collaborating vendors. More on those ideas will come at a later date – so stay tuned!
Welcome – we are excited to begin our new adventure together with you! Leave us a comment, just say “Hi!” or let us know what you would like to see more of in mobileWOMEN Magazine! Be sure to subscribe to our email list on our new site so you do not miss a thing! Have a great week – stay tuned to hear all about Fashion Week from our next guest blogger, Alicia Searcy of Fashion is 4 Everybody!

Exciting Changes Ahead: A Letter from mobileWOMEN’s Founder

By Wendy Crawford

In 2002, was created by women in wheelchairs who were having difficulty finding answers to their questions related to health, fashion, relationships, and more. Even the most basic information was very difficult to find. Women with disabilities were seldom represented in the media and, if we were, oftentimes we were portrayed as victims; however, we knew that the outside world was not an accurate reflection of our strong community. Despite the lack of resources, we were dynamic women who were having children, pursuing careers, competing in professional sports and becoming community leaders. 

We wanted to create an accessible online community and provide a platform where our voices could be heard; where we could share dreams, projects, experiences, insights, day-to-day triumphs and even frustrations. We have learned there is no better resource than one another.

As founder and editor, I am proud of the fact that our community has grown and expanded, arming women with knowledge in over ten countries. is thankful for the support from W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, The California Endowment Fund and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. I am extremely grateful for our contributors who have volunteered their time and expertise throughout the years. I can’t help but be in awe of their fortitude, wisdom, generosity and courage to share their personal stories and experiences. 

Because of the efforts of all differently-abled women worldwide, I am thrilled to say that there has been an exciting shift, a revolution, so to speak. More and more, we see diversity in the media, examples of inclusion, an increase in representation, and traditional beauty standards being redefined. That being said, there is still work to do, glass ceilings to break and goals to be achieved, but we are on our way! mobileWOMEN have found their voice and are finally being heard. 

Bethany Hoppe
Personally, I feel like this is the perfect time for me to move onto the next phase of my life and start a new chapter. I am not sure where this chapter is going to lead, but I am excited at the possibilities. I am beyond thrilled that will now be in the capable hands of Bethany Hoppe, one of our long-time devoted contributors! Bethany, who truly manages to “do it all”, is a mother, wife, university instructor, advocate, author, athlete, model and screenwriter. She has an undeniable passion to empower women with disabilities and to strengthen our community. I am confident that Bethany will bring an exciting, new perspective to and elevate it to new heights.  

I'm truly thankful that life’s challenges has led me to connect with amazing, resilient and powerful women like yourselves. I thank you for your support, your love and kinship over the years.  I treasure all that I have learned and the lifelong friendships that I’ve made. There is no denying that there is a special bond that exists between all of us, a common thread that unites us and, as a result, makes us stronger. I encourage you to continue to uplift and support one another. Together we are unstoppable!

As Margaret Mead once said,”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

COMING SOON! Watch for the newly designed site with a fresh look and most importantly, the same informative content that you've come to expect at!

Keep it Clean! Osteomyelitis

By Roberta Palmer, RN and Patty Kunze, BSN, RNC

OSTEOMYELITIS…. we hear this term frequently in our spinal cord injury community but do we know what it really means? Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone, a rare but serious condition. Bones can become infected in a number of ways: Infection in one part of the body may spread through the bloodstream into the bone, or an open fracture or surgery may expose the bone to infection. Stay with us now, this is a short article. Down and dirty, quick information.


Usually a bacterium caused staph aureus causes osteomyelitis. Staph is a common bacterium that may live on skin or in the noses of some but it doesn’t cause an infection. When staph minds it’s own business on the skin, life is good. But when a wound is open bacteria can enter and wreak havoc. There are several strains of staph. You will hear the term MRSA, which is Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus, meaning that form of staph doesn’t respond to Methicillin antibiotics. That’s why we have to be so careful with our skin and our skin tears or sores. They can allow staph to enter, and then we have a problem. Also, be aware that certain conditions that weaken the body’s immune system can increase a person's risk for osteomyelitis. This includes people with diabetes. (So keep an eye on those feet!)

Ketrina Hazell: An Advocate for Self Advocacy

My name is Ketrina Hazell and I am 24 years old, I have a disability called Cerebral Palsy. I was diagnosed at 9 months old but that never stopped me from dreaming big as I grew up, despite the hopeless future that the doctors and professionals expected for me.

I believe that it's time for the educational and health care systems as well as businesses etc., to see the potential of people with disabilities, even from a seated position and hire us. I would like to become a certified teacher's assistant and I plan on starting my own nonprofit organization. Hopefully with the assistance of the program, Access VR (Vocational Rehabilitation), I will be able to achieve my goals.

During my time in college, I majored in both liberal arts, disability studies and behavioral mental health. I have had two years of college and am not yet finished. (Note that if this not happen, it does not mean my success story ends.) I started back to college this fall and I am taking courses in human services since I would also like to become a certified peer advocate.

As well as advocating for myself, I graduated from Partners in Policymaking in 2014 which certifies me to advocate for people with developmental disabilities and their families. I am a proud alumna of Youth Power which is an organization that encourages youth as well as families, to become advocates and for the families to encourage their youth to use their voices.

What Are Your Thoughts On Taking Blood Thinners??

By Roberta Palmer, RN and Patty Kunze, BSN, RNC

So…a topic that was presented to The Rollin’ RNs involves taking blood thinners. One of our readers wanted our thoughts about how long she should stay on her blood thinner prescribed to treat a blood clot.

That’s a great question worth digging into but ultimately this is a question that needs to be discussed with your doctor. It’s a very important and individualized decision that will depend on some key factors such as:
  • The location of the blood clot
  • Why the clot formed (what risk factors contributed to your clot)
  • An assessment of your risk for developing future clots if your blood thinner is stopped (what risk factors you have which may cause a clot recurrence)
  • How you have tolerated the blood thinner and what your risk for bleeding is if you stay on a blood thinner.
  • Are you still having frequent blood levels drawn per your physician’s orders?
Lets start with a little background on blood clots

Step Change Studios to Represent UK at Ground-breaking Inclusive Dance Festival in US

Step Change Studio & KPD dancers in London. Photo by Stephanie Claire

Award-winning inclusive dance company Step Change Studios, has been invited to represent the UK at a ground-breaking festival for physically integrated dance, in the United States. FORWARD MOTION, produced by Florida-based Karen Peterson and Dancers, is one of the first festivals and conferences anywhere in the world, showcasing pioneering, innovate physically integrated dance. This bold festival – inclusive of those with and without disabilities, on stage, and in the audience – challenges artistic and societal perceptions of what defines physical beauty, and artistic ability.

Forward Motion will take place in the Unites States from 25-28th September, and feature some of the best dance companies of any kind, in performance, in discussion and expert workshops. With leading support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, and Miami Dade County, KPD has put together a powerful line-up that will appeal to American audiences, as well as help define what physically integrated dance is in 2019.

My Non-Surgical Quest for a Pain-Free Shoulder Part 2

By Wendy Crawford

NOTE: This is a personal recount of a shoulder problem written in laymen’s terms. The author is not a medical professional. For medical advice, please consult your physician for the best course of action pertaining to your condition.
In a previous article, ”My Non-Surgical Quest for a Pain-Free Shoulder - Part “, I wrote about my attempts of trying to eliminate pain in my shoulders caused by calcific tendonitis and additionally, a slight tear in my rotator cuff tendon on my left WITHOUT surgery. Eventually, through a combination of ultrasound guided barbotage, TENEX procedures and exercise, my right has improved to the point that I am now pain-free and functioning normally.

Ultrasound guided barbotage is a technique using an ultrasound guided needle that breaks up calcium deposits under local anesthetic.Tenex is a procedure that uses ultrasound waves, inserted through a small incision in the skin, to identify and break up calcification and chronic tendinosis. It was much more aggressive than the ultrasound guided barbotage and according to my orthopedist, extremely effective. Right after the procedure, it was necessary for a cortisone shot to help with inflammation to promote healing. After 2 weeks, I started to introduce exercise slowly and gradually built up to full resistance, avoiding all overhead exercises.The theory is that once the calcification is broken up and the majority removed, the remaining particles will gradually disappear with exercise. Upon providing a letter of medical necessity, my insurance covered these procedures.

As happy as I was with the results of my right shoulder, I was still struggling with pain on my left. X-rays and an MRI revealed that there was very little calcification remaining but there was a slight tear. As mentioned in Part 1, my orthopedist was strongly against surgery and wanted to explore EVERY option available. He said that there was no guarantee that surgery would work and could in fact, make my shoulder worse. He was also worried that I may damage it unintentionally, during the recovery because it’s such a long process and is difficult for wheelchair-users to not use it inadvertently.

Hilary Muelberger is Crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2020

We at were thrilled to connect with Hilary Muelberger who was just crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2020! Still flying high from her triumph, she is on a mission and already making a difference in our community. Read the press release and our interview below, to learn more about Hilary and her important platform


Contact: Hilary Muehlberger 

Missouri Woman Crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2020

Byron Center, MI – July 8, 2019 – Hilary Muehlberger of Greenwood, Missouri was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2020 in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 6, 2019.

Hilary is the first Ms. Wheelchair America from the state of Missouri in the organization's 48-year history.

She competed for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America from July 1 through July 7th at the Little Rock Marriott Hotel. She represented the state of Missouri alongside 22 other state titleholders. Although the contestants are showcased in a competition format, physical beauty is not a consideration. The week long competition required Hilary to demonstrate an ability to advocate for people with disabilities across the nation. She was judged through a series of interviews, participation in advocacy and leadership workshops, her presence and public poise, and the substance of her platform speech.

Making your Tummy Happy….the differences between the “Biotic Brothers” Pre and Pro

By Patty Kunze, BSN, RNC and Roberta Palmer, RN 

Discussing your digestive health…what is the difference between the “Biotic brothers” PREBIOTICS and PROBIOTICS? They sound alike, but are they?? Just like children, they may be from the same family but they act differently, yet play well together. We are here to clear up the myths and make it easier to understand for all of us.

First of all, lets dispel two common myths about these prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics and probiotics are not the same even though they sound similar. Also, one is not better than the other as they serve different functions when it comes to digestive health. Actually, both have to work closely together in order to support your digestive health.
Prebiotics - These are soluble fiber and antioxidant rich compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables that once fermented in the gut feed the good bacteria.
Probiotics - These are LIVE beneficial microorganisms or fermented yeast that are often introduced into food products such as yogurts or oral supplements.

My Non-Surgical Quest for a Pain-Free Shoulder - Part 1

By Wendy Crawford

NOTE: This is a personal recount of a shoulder problem written in laymen’s terms. The author is not a medical professional. For medical advice, please consult your physician for the best course of action pertaining to your condition.

IIt all started about 11 years ago when the side of my left upper arm began to ache. It was one of those aches that is just kind of always present and didn’t really matter what I did or did not do. Keep in mind at this point, I had been paralyzed for 25 years due to a C5/6 level Spinal Cord Injury that I sustained in a motor vehicle accident. To say that my arms have been overused is probably an understatement! Given that the prevalence of shoulder pain rises to a peak of 50% of the general population ages 55-64 years old and much higher for wheelchair users, it is unfortunately a common problem.
I first went to my general practitioner who thought I was having an inflammation issue and recommended that I start taking large amounts of Advil, several times a day. I wasn’t thrilled about it but if it was going to remedy the situation, I was willing to try it.

After a month or so, this pain was still present and it didn’t seem like it was helping at all. It was also recommended that I go to physical therapy to exercise my shoulder and rotator cuff along with ultrasound therapy on the side of my arm. I had some slight relief but the pain still lingered so finally I was referred to an orthopedist.. After having an X-ray, she pointed to the tiniest microscopic dot and told me that was calcification forming which was causing me pain. I was finding it hard to believe that such a tiny speck on the x-ray could be the source of so much discomfort. I was also confused because it was the side of my arm that hurt not my shoulder. She explained that it was called “referred pain” which is very common with shoulders. She gave me a steroid Cortisone shot in the shoulder and told me to keep exercising.

How Women in Wheelchairs Can Prepare for Safe Travel Getaways

By Lucy Lawrence

Ten percent of the global population have disabilities, based on information from the UN Development program. With this statistic in mind, it’s not hard to see why there is a big market for accessible travel. Women who use wheelchairs, will benefit from learning how to prepare effectively before exploring new places. Even if they are already old hands when it comes to planning (and enjoying) accessible trips, proper preparation will boost the odds of pleasant and safe vacation experiences. The following safety tips will help mobileWOMEN feel confident before they go on new travel adventures.

Sign up for an Accessible Pre-planned Trip
Grabbing a ticket for a group travel experience will give you the opportunity to meet others and is safer because you will have them looking out for you. You’ll get a chance to see new places and will be an excellent way to reduce the amount of research and preparation that you need to do before embarking on your journey. So many important, accessibility-related details will be taken care of by the travel group. Destinations will have high accessibility rankings, transportation booked during the group trip will be suitable and accommodations and activities will be accessible.

Tips on Creating a Business Born Out of My Needs as a Wheelchair User

By Louise Sertsis

I pride myself in saying that I am an official business owner and the founder of a line of bags designed for wheelchair users, That being said, I had no idea what I was getting myself into nor the amount of work it would be but I do love what I’m doing. I strongly believe that women should support and empower one another so I’d like to share some tips that I’ve learned during this process that may be helpful for those wanting to start their own business:

Find a Need
I never thought of how much work was involved when thinking/developing an idea, to finally launching my product to market. A bag created out of my need for independence and freedom. I can recall my relentless searches on the Internet, looking for a wheelchair bag that was similar to the vision in my head. This bag didn't exist online or in stores, my excitement grew as I pondered this.

Find Your Passion
Finding a need is one thing but you need to be passionate about what you are doing because starting a business is hard work and all consuming.
Although my situation prevented me from doing physical work, my thoughts were ongoing and strong. I now had a goal to work towards, something I could truly call my own. This gave me purpose, passion and determination. I was going to find a way to make this happen regardless of my mobility needs. I was never one to fear the unknown, or shy away from completing a project. The past two years have shown that my perseverance and hard work is starting to show.

Seek Individuals with Experience in the Industry

Bill and Louise collaborating over lunch.
In creating a product or service, you obviously need to learn as much as possible about the industry. This requires hours and hours of research but you are way ahead of the learning curve, if you find someone with knowledge and expertise that can only come from years of working in the field.
So my next step was to find someone who could turn my vision which is now known as the Handi-Pac, into reality. Through a complete fluke, I was able to find Bill Ostrom of Ostrom Packs, who would grow to be my mentor and friend. He constructed my prototypes that mirrored my vision as to what I needed to the Handi Pac to be. Due to his extensive experience and unparalleled attention to detail, I was able to explain my concept, which became my first working prototype.

Become a Sponge

Bill and I spoke on the phone and I drank in any wisdom that he was willing to share. After countless hours on the telephone, we have created something that is truly unique and needed for wheelchair users. Without Bill's support/guidance, I couldn't imagine where I'd be today. I can't stress enough Bill’s belief in me which was an integral piece of this puzzle. All you really need is a great person, such as Bill, to turn dreams into reality but you also need to listen.

Adapt and Evolve
Sometimes you are going to hear information that is not necessarily in line with your vision and you will need to adapt your plan. This is not always easy to do but is paramount to be successful.
Bill suggested ideas which I was able to follow to establish branding for my product, and without his business savvy, I would still be learning the ins and outs on how to create a successful business strategy. I’m not sure how I found him but I'm so glad I did!

Create a Business Plan 

Exploring the feasibility by creating a business plan with a thorough financial budget, is imperative.
There is a wealth of knowledge online that even includes templates for you to follow during this phase. Once again, find a mentor to review and get feedback or connect with a program such as SCORE which will link you with a volunteer entrepreneur to help guide you through the process.

Partner with a Like Minded Go-Getter

Samanta Bullock with her Handi-Pac
The prototyping phase has been a lengthy process, one that allowed me the opportunity to form invaluable relationships. Samanta Bullock is one of those relationships. She has not only provided her honest and constructive feedback, but she has done it while traveling in her wheelchair for her modeling career. She is from London, England where wheelchair modelling is much more advanced than it is here. Samanta is now my friend, collaborator and like-minded individual. I'm honored to partner with Samanta Bullock, a woman who is impacting others in wheelchairs and has the same drive as I do.

Don’t Give Up
My biggest hurdle to date has always been the lack of funding hence why I decided to create a kickstarter starter campaign. If successful, I will be able to order my first allotment of bags. I will be able to be a contributing member of society, which is beyond important for me. I wasted so many precious years, feeling sorry for myself and my situation. Today's a new day and I’m trying to make other wheelchair users lives better by giving the gift of independence. See my latest news coverage on CTV here! My kickstarter will offer the Handi Pac at a promotional price vs my website. See Kickstarter here. Please be sure to visit my website at if you require any further information.

Like my Facebook page advanced freedom
Follow me on Instagram @advancedfreedom
Follow on twitter @lhunlouise or
LinkedIn at Louise Sertsis

Danielle DeAngelis and Becoming Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2019

We at mobileWOMEN were thrilled to connect with this year’s Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania, Danielle DeAngelis! We asked Danielle to share her story and then answer a few questions to learn more about her platform, goals and motivation. In Danielle’s words:

My name is Danielle DeAngelis and I’m 27 years old from Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. I graduated from Jim Thorpe Area High School in 2010. After high school, I attended Lehigh Carbon Community College studying early childhood education when my studies were cut short due to a horrific car accident that happened on March 7th, 2011. At only 19 years old, I sustained a spinal cord injury and I spent nearly three months in the hospital recovering. I had to learn how to adapt to a whole new life.

When I came home from the hospital. I spent years soul searching and trying to find my purpose in life, but I hit rock bottom. I was so depressed. I remember feeling so alone and not having anyone that I could talk to that could relate. I contemplated suicide more times than I can count. I was just so angry with what happened to me. This wasn’t what I imagined my future to look like. I always questioned “why” and It pained my heart, having to accept the fact that this is my life now.